This Washington

Election Verdict: Washington Voters Love Their Government, They Just Don't Want to Pay for It.

By Josh Feit November 3, 2010

"People love their government, but they don't want to pay for it." That was the succinct summary of last night's local election results uttered by a sullen campaign worker slumped in a chair late last night at the Westin.

It's an accurate summary. While anti-tax sentiment was loud and clear last night—'No' high-earners' income tax; repeal the soda, candy, and bottled water tax; no paying for public school green retrofits; and 'Yes' on Tim Eyman's requirement that legislators need a two-thirds majority to raise taxes, there was some other news last night as well.

Voters said 'No' (at least as of last night) to three privatization initiatives—two that would have privatized booze (the Costco one, 1100, 51-48 and 1105, 63-36)  and one that would have allowed private insurers into the state run workers' comp program (58 to 41).

Washington voters seem to trust the government (or fear the private market), but also don't dig paying for the government. If the Murray Rossi numbers hold, the split personality will be even more pronounced: Rossi campaigned against government spending and the millions in government funded projects Murray brings to Washington State. Yet, she appears to be trending toward a win. What's more, Rossi trashed Murray for supporting a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, people making over $200,000. Yet, Washington voters rejected the high-earners' income measure on the Washington ballot.

Results are still coming in—Rossi could win  and 1100 could win—but as of last night, all our contradictions are showing.

And it's a contradiction that may be untenable. An anxious press release, with the headline "Election Results Put Health Care in Jeopardy" just arrived in my in-box from the Community Health Network of Washington (an advocacy group for low-income health providers).

It blares:
“These election results will unfortunately add to the struggles of families across Washington who are looking for relief,” said Rebecca Kavoussi, Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs for the Community Health Network of Washington (CHNW). “In terms of the Initiatives, Washingtonians lost in this election. Unprecedented funding from out-of-state corporations dominated the races and it shows in the results.”

With the state facing a projected minimum budget deficit of $4 billion in the coming biennium, the Governor and legislature will have no other options than to make deeper cuts, on top of the $290 million most recently cut from health care and $1 billion in cuts to health care programs over the past two years.

According to Mary Looker, Chief Executive Officer of the Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers, “The 2011 legislative session will be the most challenging we’ve ever experienced. We will have to work even harder to ensure continuation of these vital, cost-effective health care programs serving Washington’s most vulnerable populations.”

And then it provieds a list of what's on the chopping block: Disability Lifeline medical, Apple Health for Kids, and Medicaid optional programs such as Maternity Support Services, adult dental care, pharmacy and interpreter services,  the elimination of Community Health Services grants, which keep clinic doors open for people without insurance, and elimination of the voter-approved Basic Health Plan.

And as we reported this morning, the governor issued a similar statement, singling out 1107, which repeals the soda and candy taxes.
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